Focus on the Here & Now

Focus on the Here & Now

“It’s difficult to stay in the present… I start living simultaneously in the past and the future.” — Adapted from Hope for Today, p.158

Every time I feel uncomfortable, it’s frequently because I’m upset about something that has already happened or worried about something that may happen. More often than not I’m in both places at once, thinking about the past and scared about the future. Sometimes my thoughts go like this, “Oh my God, look what happened. Now what’s going to happen?“.

Books have been written about the importance of staying in the moment, where neither the present nor the past exists, and for good reason. If I’m interested in being a piece, comfortable in my own skin, and enjoying life one moment at a time (which I am), it’s best for me to give both the past and the future to my higher power, and keep my focus on the here and now, where everything really is fine and… ILML!

— JamieQ

Loving Life is a Miracle

Loving Life is a Miracle

It’s impossible to feel like life is full of miracles while addicted to drugs and alcohol. But getting, and staying, sober wasn’t all I wanted—I wanted to love my life so much that I’d feel like shouting it out every day!

Today I do, and it’s amazing. Here are the three steps it took (and continue to take) to become someone who spends most of my time loving life, being happy, joyous and free.

The first step was for me to decide that, since I was now sober, becoming a life lover was my next top priority. More important than making money. More important than accomplishing other tasks. More important than putting others’ needs above mine. I became willing to take any and all positive actions I could to love my life. Not just like it, love it!

Once that commitment was out of the way, the second step was to have a consistent morning routine which included meditation, connecting with source, mirror talk, singing, dancing, showering and straightening up, exercising, reading and listening to things that are uplifting, writing out what your grateful for, and taking a written inventory of my last 24 hours and writing down how I felt at that moment. Sounds like a lot? It is. Nothing great happens without commitment and work. I spend a lot of time and do a lot of work each day to love my life, and it’s 100% worth the investment.

The third, and perhaps most important, way to assure that I would love my life, and continue to do so, was to share my passion for loving life with others and help them discover how to be a life lover. I do this in meetings (AA, AlAnon, NarAnon and Life Lovers) and with everyone I meet. There’s a sign on the front door to my office “If this door is locked we’re out loving life!”, and notes all over my home about gratitude and loving life. As we’ve heard many times, “We have to give it away to keep it”.

Today I choose to believe that EVERYTHING is a miracle, because when I live in that frame of mind… ILML!

When I Align I’m Fine

When I Align I’m Fine

“When things are the darkest, say thank you. Because God has put a rainbow in every cloud. And though you can’t see it yet, it’s coming.” – Oprah recounting advice from Maya Angelou

If you’re like me, and have actually chosen to believe the everything in life happens for a reason. If you have actually chosen to trust the your personal higher power has your back. If you have actually chosen that, no matter what happens, your feelings won’t be a hostage to it, but that instead you’ll insist on being grateful, then you’ve discovered one of the secrets to ALWAYS loving your life.

When I align my will with my higher powers, aka want exactly what’s happening right here and now… ILML!

One Interpretation of God

One Interpretation of God

“From low to high, the levels of consciousness are: shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, pride, courage, neutrality, willingness, acceptance, reason, love, joy, peace, enlightenment.” — Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins

I was texting with a friend this morning about our concepts of a higher power. I said:

I love that we get to choose who or what our higher power is. Mine is love, gratitude, compassion, happiness, etc. It’s also my higher consciousness, as opposed to my lower consciousness.

His response was:

Yeah, I notice mine changes constantly, but I really dig the idea of higher vs lower consciousness.

Having been a guy with very low self esteem, angry at myself and the world around me, I used alcohol and drugs to deal with my thoughts and feelings. As a result of how I felt, my behavior was often self-centered, unkind, and destructive. I was operating from a place of shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire and anger. In other words, I was fully connected to, and acting out of, my lower consciousness.

After doing the daily readings, journaling, gratitude lists, meditations, fellowship, and service work for many years, I began to start practicing and experiencing a healthy sense of pride, I became more courageous, started becoming more willing to evolve, opening up to the idea of acceptance, and ultimately I began to experience more love, joy, peace and enlightenment. In other words, I started moving away from my lower consciousness and began connecting to my higher consciousness.

For many of us who are not comfortable with religion, the word God is so intrinsically tied to religion that it’s difficult for us to connect to, or even believe in, the idea of God.

Though these days I’m cool with the words God and Higher Power, I still interpret those words as “My Higher Consciousness.” It just makes sense to me. Others interpret them as they choose, so I believe I have a right to my beliefs. And I’ve discovered that the more diligent I am at consistently practicing rituals which keep me connected with my higher, rather than my lower, consciousness, the more ILML!

— JamieQ

Only Powerless Alone

Only Powerless Alone

“We admitted we were powerless…” Step One, AA

We are not really powerless. We have the power to drink alcohol. We have the power to use drugs. We have the power to live selfishly. We have the power to focus on how bad life is. We have the power to blame, hurt others, hurt ourselves, be angry, live in self-pity and hate our life. We have lots of power.

What most of us have come to realize is that, alone, by ourselves, without the help from others who have overcome those things in life that have held them down, we cannot change the trajectory of our life. We cannot stop drinking and drugging. We cannot stop blaming and feeling hurt. We cannot love our lives.

So when we say we are powerless, what we really mean is help me. I’m powerless to become what I want to be without help. I’m powerless to change all the behaviors that hurt me and others without help. I’m powerless to create a life I love, to really love myself, without help. Please, help me.

The beauty of the program is that we get to meet others who have overcome their powerlessness through the help of others, and transformed a life of misery into a life they love. And by learning from them how to do this ourselves, we then get the opportunity to have that life beyond our wildest dreams, and help others to have one too. It’s an endless circle of love. Loving others, loving ourselves, loving life.

And when I get, and stay, right in the middle of that circle, while reaching out my hands to as many others as I can to bring them in… ILML!

— JamieQ

Program Based Direction

Program Based Direction

“Faith without works is dead.” AA, p.76

Surrendering, turning it over, trusting our higher power, having faith, letting go. These actions are fundamental in my desire to love life. Seeking the spiritual solution always leads me to greater abundance.

But there’s a balance between giving it to God and getting up off my ass and taking some action.

Too often, especially prior to thoroughly working a program, when things got difficult and I felt overwhelmed I’d give it to God and let it go, when in fact, some action (aka works) was required. God isn’t EVER going to do for me what I can do for myself.

So the question is, how do I know if there’s something I should be “doing,” and if there is, how do I know what “it” is?

By first asking my Higher Power, “Hey God, is there something I should be doing? And, if so, what is it?”

If I don’t intuitively know what to do, and am unsure if I should be doing nothing, I call my sponsor.

A good sponsor will provide clarity in moments if confusion. Mine helps me to distinguish when I’m giving it to God versus evading responsibilities or being lazy. By following my sponsor’s program based direction when I’m not sure what, if anything, I should be doing… ILML!

— JamieQ

Emotional Hangovers

Emotional Hangovers

When we habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desires, they revolt, and resist us heavily. Then we develop hurt feelings, a sense of persecution, and a desire to retaliate… This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us.” – Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p.53

This reminds me of the following quote on page 60 of Alcoholics Anonymous “Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery, and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased.

This is how I ALWAYS lived before getting sober and learning a new, better way to live in AA, AlAnon and NarAnon. Whereas AA gave me my physical sobriety, fellowship, an opportunity to be of service, a Higher Power, and the chance to clean up the wreckage of my past and begin being a better man, AlAnon & NarAnon gives me my emotional sobriety – allowing me to practice equanimity and have serenity, even in the face of difficulties.

For me, personal relations, getting along with others, the desire to be liked, loved and appreciated, were all areas of life that I needed help with. Having lived most of my life by sheer self-propulsion, running my own show, trying to run others’ shows as well, and constantly thinking about me and mine, letting go of those behaviors wasn’t easy. But the emotional hangovers I was experiencing were simply too much.

Over the years I’ve discovered that when I practice the AlAnon/NarAnon way of living, the better I get along with others, the happier I am with me, the less needy I become, the more I rely on myself for the love I desperately want to feel, and the more abundant my life becomes. While the love others give me is a wonderful added bonus, it’s no longer necessary for me to love my life. And these days, thanks to the 12 step programs, and working a rigorous program of daily action… ILML!

— JamieQ